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Does Sin Come In Sizes?


This week I have been somewhat preoccupied with sin.  Not with sinning mind you, although like any humanoid I do my fair share of that too!
Report by Thembe Sachikonye

So let us imagine for a second that sin actually did come in sizes, say small, medium, large, extra large and humongous.

What would we list as key performance indicators of a particular size of sinfulness?  Catholicism classifies sin into venial sins — suggesting that these are relatively minor — and mortal sins, which are considered more severe.

A simplification of this would say that sin come in two sizes, small and large; or perhaps large and extra large?

Would a sin perpetrated against one person be considered petite, while a crime against an entire people be a double XL? Take Bulawayo for instance. I am writing this from the “City of Kings”, and I do assure you, the water situation here is dire. Now surely the sin perpetrated against this city must be one of monumental proportions.  Can this really be equated to a sin such as for example insulting the Zimbabwean President?

Is the size of the sin related to the number of people who are affected by the transgression, or to the gravity of the result.  So for instance, a death of one person might be equivalent to the indignity of a million.

In which case if you are skilled enough to achieve both in one fell swoop (I am thinking Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Kim il Sung) you could just march right up to the gates of hell and say to the devil: “Supersize me, man!”  Trying to measure sin is a little like trying to measure love.  Who can say whether your love is bigger than mine, or whether your smaller love is in fact deeper; you know, like a champagne flute as opposed to a martini glass.

I watched a movie many years ago called The seven deadly sins and I wondered what qualities would have qualified these as “deadly” and whether that meant all other sin was benign?  The deadly sins (also known as cardinal sins or capital vices) were listed as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony.

Initially, I thought these were called capital because they result in death, but I later discovered that they are called capital because they are considered to be the source, or origin of all other sin.

I am told we are a Christian State, (though when I see the disgrace happening in Bulawayo I tend to wonder how true that assertion is) so therefore the starting point for any discussion on sin should be the Bible.  I must confess to not having read the Bible in its entirety, but I am aware of passages such as John 19:11 where Jesus talks about one person having the “greater” sin.

Would this then mean a corresponding greater degree of punishment?

Or perhaps the size and gravity of a sin is related to the party sinned against?

Might a sin against my brother be construed as smaller than a sin against God Himself?  Or do I automatically sin against God when I sin against my brother? Ten commandments are fascinating in many ways, and one of these is that collectively they focus more on ways in which we transgress against one another and only briefly on ways in which we grieve God Himself.

Should we take this to mean that God is more concerned about how we treat one another than how we defer to Him?  Or that we are more likely to grieve one another than we are to grieve Him, therefore He needed to provide more guidelines?

General Christian teaching suggests that no sin is greater than the other.  In Romans 6:23 we read that the wages of sin is death.  Theoretically that means one is as likely to die for a small sin as a big one.

My mother and I had great fun with this one.  She would say: “So if you hide my needle and I become distraught looking for it, you are just as bad as a person who beats up his wife.”  And I would say: “Yes, and if you lie and tell me you posted my letter when in fact, it’s sitting in your handbag, you are as bad as a murderer.”

We would laugh, but the truth was, the idea was hard to swallow. Given the fact that sin features daily on our activities list — not by intent perhaps, but rather by compulsion — then it is by this same impulse that sin continues to be attractive to all of us on some level,  even though we are aware of the dire consequences.

Some sins are so deliciously attractive as to be unforgettable and so they keep drawing the sinner back (I guess this is how serial killers become “serial”).

Other sins are committed with a heavy heart and a full consciousness of how they separate us from God. But whether regular or supersised, the good thing for mankind is that there is no sin which is unforgiveable.

Being forgiven is in its own way so heartbreaking, moving and humbling that it makes it worth the effort not to sin.

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